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Decision to open Geneva-On-The-Lake shops was family decision

Posted at 3:57 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 07:03:32-04

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ohio — Memorial Day in the small lakeside town means big business.

Geneva-On-The-Lake is all about family; from the activities to the shops on the main strip. But planning to reopen during the pandemic has put stress on some families here.

"My father started back with Pete's Grill - where Eddie's Arcade is at - back in the 1950s,” said Peter Macchia.

Macchia’s family owns buildings on both sides of the Lake Road strip. It’s the main attraction for people here when they aren’t on the lake.

One of the buildings Macchia owns is leased to Niko Spyrou. The cheesesteaks and fries served up at Spyrou’s Captain Gus’ restaurant are staples here.

"It's been a process and a transition,” Spyrou said.

He had to install plexiglass in the front of his shop and add 6 feet markers. Spyrou, along with several other owners, expanded the space in front of their shops out to the street. The two-lane street narrows to make room for the man-made barriers.

“It's worked out,” Spyrou said as he looked at the crowd in front of this storefront at lunch time. “There are a lot of people out having a good time..."

It may be working out right now, but when the shutdown started, it was hard for Macchia to see how things would open up for the season.

"As a family, they've been challenging,” he said. “As a businesses owner they've been more challenging."

Geneva-On-The-Lake is a summer destination.

"Our livelihood revolves around four months out of the year,” Macchia said.

In the colder winter months, the village has about 2,200 residents. Jeremy Schaffer, the administrator here, said the population can double during the summer.

With information rolling out about what businesses have to do to keep people safe and comply with state guidelines, Macchia worried if opening was even possible.

Captain Gus’ did open before Mother’s Day. Spyrou said he sold out of several items and liked how well everyone stayed separated.

But, Eddie's Grill is one village staple is staying closed for the big holiday weekend; the owners decided to wait two weeks to open.

"When you go down the strip you'll see two or three that decided to stay closed,” said Schaffer. “But, for the majority, open I believe."

In this tourist destination, closed businesses mean less money for families who stay here and less for the village to operate.

"I will tell you the village is facing a $700,000 tax budget hole,” Schaffer said.

With a majority of his buildings situated on the strip, Macchia decided to open his spaces. He said he did it to serve the families that come here to visit and to support his own.

For Macchia, the pandemic put a lot of things in to perspective. His father died four years ago, but Macchia said if he were alive his dad would have done the same thing.

"He wouldn't let this virus slow him down, unfortunately. He'd be out here working. He'd be 90 today."

Find a list of open Geneva-On-The-Lake businesses and read more about the village's reopening plans here.